Critics Charge NYPD Returning to ‘Broken Windows’ Policing


By Veronica Miller and Matthew Torres

NEW YORK, NY- New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Police Department announced this week the creation of the Citywide Crime and Quality-of-Life Enforcement Initiative in response to the increased number of shootings and the public-safety concerns of everyday New Yorkers.

In a press release from the NYPD, they stated they are going to be taking a “proactive engagement with offenders who commit violations that lead up to an act of violence.”

These violations include things like public drinking, open-air selling of narcotics, and dice games that lead to disputes and shootings.

Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri said that “30 percent of all shooting incidents are preceded by multiple reports of other lawbreaking and violations leading up to that violence.”

NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell added, “This enforcement will be responsive to community complaints and concerns and will address the violent crime patterns officers and detectives are confronting,” noting “this is NOT a return to Stop, Question, and Frisk—nor is it ‘policing for numbers.’”

However, Jennvine Wong, a staff attorney with Legal Aid’s Cop Accountability Project, condemned NYPD’s decision to reintroduce broken-windows policing, in a statement by the Legal Aid Society.

“Broken-windows policing has long been discredited for furthering mistrust between the police and the communities we serve, and this rebranded version will yield those same results, with the same disparate enforcement,” Wong said.

Broken-Windows is a theory of policing that originates from an article from The Atlantic by criminologist George Kelling and James Wilson in 1982.

The premise is that the presence of minor incivility (broken windows) foreshadows occurrences of serious crime. The theory was to have more foot-patrol officers, which in turn made residents of those neighborhoods feel safer.

NYPD has previously enforced an initiative in correlation with broken-windows theory called Quality-of-Life-Summonses from 2010-2015.

However, when investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD, he concluded in his Quality of Life Report that they found “no evidence to suggest that crime control can be directly attributed to quality-of-life summonses and misdemeanor arrests.”

Wong concluded, “This is a botched opportunity for Mayor Adams to address the root cause of crime—poverty and a lack of robust services—and this plan will send our entire city back decades.”


About The Author

Veronica is a senior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science Public Service. She is passionate about advocating for women's rights and plans on attending law school where she can continue to advocate.

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5 thoughts on “Critics Charge NYPD Returning to ‘Broken Windows’ Policing”

  1. Chris Griffith

    The only thing “controversial” about broken window theory was that it worked
    The fact that it works really bothers a certain class of people (people who want crime to be the fault of something other than criminals).

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